If I were to ask you “Is crime going up or down?” what would you say?
If you’re anything like the English you’d say “UP! Of course it’s going up! What are you crazy? I’m frightened to leave my house?!?”
And you’d be wrong.
In fact you’d be very wrong.
You live in Australia one of the safest countries in the world, at the safest time to be alive, in the midst of the lowest crime rate that the world has ever known. *apologies if you don’t live in Australia, sucks to be you*
Not that crime doesn’t happen. That would be not only crazy but weird. But worldwide crime is down over 50% since the 1970’s. That’s not just statistically significant. That’s 50 freaking percent.
When was the last time you saw fifty percent attributed to anything scientific. That’s higher than most efficacies of drugs. That’s higher than Tony Abbot’s approval rating. If lack of crime were a politician it would be Prime Minister. Or Crime Minister.
No first world country is immune to this wave of lawfulness. The U.S. crime is down. The U.K? The Crime Survey for England and Wales shows that incidents of crime were 19 per cent lower in 2012 than in 2006/07 and 53 per cent lower than in 1995.
In Australia everything bar violent assaults has dropped significantly since 1993 our violent assaults are slightly up but everything else is WAY down.
The number of burglaries was 440,000 in 2000, and has since halved to fewer than 220,000 a year.
The number of motor vehicle was 140,000 a year in 2001, and has now fallen by 61 per cent to below 55,000 a year. Other thefts were at 700,000 a year in 2001, but are now down by a third to almost 460,000 a year.
If you allow for our rising population – up by a per cent or so a year – the decline in the rate of property crime is even greater.
Robberies reached 27,000 in 2001, but have since fallen by 44 per cent to below 15,000 a year.
Murder? 1.2 incidents per 100,000 population. But after being well above 300 a year until 2006, it’s been below 300 a year since then.
It’s estimated only about half of all sexual assaults are reported to police. The number of recorded sexual assaults rose markedly between 1996 and 2008 to 20,000 victims a year – perhaps because of growing willingness to report offences – but even so the arithmetic says the rate of sexual assault has been falling modestly since 2006.
And the strangest thing is that this is a WORLDWIDE trend that shows no sign of abating.
For all the people that whinge and moan about the modern world and “The kids today” the fact is…..we are being significantly nicer to each other all the time.
There are two main questions that this brings up
1. How and why is this happening? And…..
2. Why the hell do we all think that crime is going up when it’s really not?
What it’s not.
Well it’s not harsher prison sentences. Because both Germany and Finland who have seen the same massive crime drop offs of crime in the last 20 years both significantly relaxed their prison sentences over nearly the same period.
Could it be Abortion? This was a pet theory of Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner the writers of Freakanomics. Fewer unwanted babies growing up to be criminals? Well it might be a factor but it explains little in countries where abortion is still frowned upon or outright illegal.
It’s really not the death penalty, countries like Australia and Great Brittan have basically had their murder rates drop steadily since the 1970’s without a death penalty.
What it might be.
At the start of the 20th century crime started to rise. In some places it got very, very high. In those places it kept going up till the mid 80’s and then…suddenly the trend started reversing and no-one could work out why. But two events happened on its rise and then seemingly to precipitate its reversal. Lead was added to petrol and then….it was taken out. Lead is not good for you. Lead can be absorbed into bones, teeth and blood. It causes kidney damage, inhibits body growth, causes abdominal pain, anaemia and can damage the nervous system. But it remains a theory because of the French. Of course. France has had unleaded petrol since the 1970’s but their crime rate bucks the trend. It’s going up.
There was a time in the early 2000’s when the internet got pointed to for EVERYTHING. www.catchallsolution.com but it really might be the internet! Social media might be allowing everyone to realise how important people you don’t know are! Or angry birds might be taking time away from crime! Except it arrived too late. The trend was obvious in the 1980’s.
Got some criminal impulses? Why not get them out with a nice round of GTA? Humm…..interesting theory but fails to fit the facts.
A decline in religiosity.
Ok so no-one is taking this one seriously, in fact I might be the only proponent but in a field where you’re leading contenders make no sense with the facts it’s as valid as anything else. And it also fits. But how? Well maybe people turning to humanism is making them more humane! But then again it might just be a coincidence.
Why don’t we know about it?
Well it’s tempting to blame the media for everything but in this case it really is their fault. A newspaper, a web-page, a tv show. All these things are the most bad news that can be gathered in a 24 hour period. Bad news sells. Good news? Well they don’t even report it. And the stats “Crime rate falling to unprecedented levels” is kind of at odds with the front page that sells the most when there’s another school shooting. Also that story would entail the acknowledgment of the idea that there are other countries. Something that local papers seem loathed to do unless people from those countries want to come here.
But in keeping with their approach I will leave you with some bad news. The reality is that this is bad, people have no conception of what is really happening in their country. And with people so out of touch with the reality of situations how can they make informed decisions about government? Think of this a party that gets into power promising to be tough on the rising crime rate……great…except it’s like a government getting into power promising to do something about the impending invasion of the moon people.